Distance learning has always been a controversial topic. While homework responsibilities have long been present in the educational system, these responsibilities and teaching practices have been considered supplementary to the core educational system – which is in-person classroom learning. When in-person, teachers can easily monitor a student’s attentiveness, preparation, and emotional investment in the curriculum. As a result of COVID-19, in-person teaching has been placed on a pedestal as the most significant type of education. Technology advancements had started to change this thinking in recent years but only in a limited way.
Major institutions, both undergrad, masters, and professionals, had started to instill distance learning practices by permitting online classes. While these online classes were allowed within an overall curriculum, most major institutions and professional licenses permitted only a small fraction of required courses to be completed online, with the remainder requiring classroom learning.
Institutions took years to get to this point, as many traditional educational professionals found online learning issues somehow. Whether it was arguing the practice to be ineffective, ripe for cheating, or not good for the student – there always seemed to be an argument. The only real reason we likely saw the use of these new systems was due to the financial gains institutions would see by expanding their client base. Unfortunately, people seemed to overlook the actual benefits to students (most notably scheduling flexibility) while also ignoring the powerful new technologies which could be used to benefit students, such as multi-person video calls. This all changed with COVID-19.
Due to the global pandemic, students and institutions alike no longer have to wait for archaic rules to be chipped away over time or set-in-their-ways administrators to change their set in stone opinions on teaching. Innovation is now forced due to both liability and state stay at home orders. The coronavirus has created the most massive remote learning experiment the world has ever seen. With more than 90% of students (or 1.6 billion people globally) affected by the closures, it is time for us to see if the distance learning idea is an effective one for all.
Much of the economy may be faltering as a result of this pandemic. Still, one of the most overlooked yet fastest growing industries is in the midst of a boom as a result: education technology. Prior to the pandemic, the industry was already growing rapidly; in 2015 the industry was a $107 billion market. Now it is expected to triple and be worth more than $350 billion by 2025 as more and more people look for learning resources online. Since the peak of the virus in March 2020, education application downloads have surged 90% compared to this time last year.
These apps themselves are a globally significant industry, but the ancillary effects of their use have just as significant, if not a more substantial economic impact. To use those applications, you need a computer such as a laptop, desktop, or tablet. In addition, the computer has to be a modern model capable of supporting the software required while also containing the ability to use video. The software itself will also be a downloaded requirement. In some cases, software (such as Adobe flash) will be needed to support the core educational software. This goes without mentioning the smaller items we do not think about but do come along logically with these needs: laptop cords, mouses, cases, and at-home desk furniture setups to support long hours in front of the screen. The total economic impact is immense and difficult to measure. While we may not know the true amazingly high economic impact amount, we can safely say we will see plenty of restaurants closing during the pandemic, but few education technology companies will have issues.
Are you prepared for the back to school from home life?